Greetings, fellow Austenians! I’m so excited to be visiting My Vices and Weaknesses today to talk to you about my upcoming release, The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy. It’s my first standalone Austen variation, and I really hope you’ll like it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.
In this new story, circumstances are vastly different for ODC: Elizabeth and her sisters are the daughters of a baronet, and Darcy has no fortune. But as always, the stars align and one of literature’s most beloved couples unite, determined to take on the world together!
In case you haven’t been following along as I posted the chapters at A Happy Assembly, here’s the second half of chapter 2:
It was a long and boring northwest journey. Darcy began to wish after the first hour that he’d at least brought along a book to read while there was light but it had not occurred to him, and so there was nothing to distract him from wondering as to the true purpose of the summons. They stopped twice, for an hour each time, to rest the horses and refresh themselves. Darcy wished it weren’t necessary, but the animals weren’t simple post horses that could be changed out in a quarter of an hour for a fresh pair at a coaching inn—they belonged to his uncle.
A sigh of relief escaped him when at last they pulled up to the stone edifice of Disley Court. Torches were lit at intervals along the outer wall, and he knew there would be more lighting the small stone courtyard beyond. Darcy resisted the urge to stretch when at last he had alighted from the vehicle, and he headed directly into the courtyard, leaving the footmen to deal with his single piece of luggage.
The front door opened before he could knock to reveal Sommerset; he had served the Disleys as butler at the Court about as long as Reynolds had been in the Darcys’ service. The servant’s quick response told Darcy that someone had been watching for him.
“Good evening, Mr. Darcy,” said the butler with a sniff through his thin nose.
Probably thinks I should have taken the time to have a shave and a haircut, Darcy thought, and he just resisted the urge to smirk at the man.
“This way, if you please, sir,” Sommerset said, then turned about smartly and led the way to the drawing room. There he found not only his uncle, who was reading a newspaper, but also his aunt, his youngest cousin, and his sister.
“Fitzwilliam!” Georgiana cried instantly on seeing him, then jumped up and ran over to throw her arms around him. Darcy returned the embrace tightly, eliciting a squeal from his sister. God, but it felt good to hold her in his arms. It had been far too long—well over a year—since he had last seen her.
A gentle clearing of her throat from the countess reminded the two that they were not alone. Holding Georgiana back from him, his hands resting on her shoulders, Darcy took a good long look at her as he said, “Bless my soul, it does me good to see you, dearest.”
She’d grown so much since last year; already the top of her head reached his shoulder—at only fifteen! She had filled out some, as girls were wont to do, and a surge of protectiveness rose within him at the thought of her receiving unwanted attention from males in the area.
“It does me good to see you as well, brother,” said Georgiana. “You’ve been away far too long.”
“I have,” he agreed. “I am sorry to make you miss me so. But rest assured, dear one, I have missed you a great deal, as well.”
Darcy lifted his head to find his aunt and uncle looking at him expectantly. He bowed his head to each in turn and offered a greeting, then looked to his youngest Fitzwilliam cousin, Cecilia. “Good evening, Cousin.”
“Good evening to you, Cousin,” said the young lady, who bore such a resemblance to her mother that the two might well be mistaken for sisters.
Darcy walked further into the room with Georgiana’s hand held in his own, his eyes on the earl. “Lord Disley, I believe you wished to see me about a matter regarding Pemberley?”
“Pemberley?” queried Georgiana, who looked to their uncle with a quizzical expression. “I had no idea—Uncle Richard only said that he was expecting you by supper.”
Lord Disley pulled a fob watch from his pocket. “Speaking of, it is about time for it,” said he, just as the housekeeper entered and announced the late evening meal was ready.
The earl folded his paper and set it aside as the three ladies headed out of the room. When he had stood, he stepped over to Darcy and said, “Let us have a pleasant meal with your aunt and the girls—business can wait until tomorrow, I daresay.”
As if he had any choice in the matter. Biting back a retort about having been summoned and then made to wait, Darcy gave a curt nod and followed his uncle into the small dining room, where the five of them sat down to a hearty beef stew. Georgiana and Cecilia regaled him with tales of their studies; both of them were becoming highly accomplished, with his sister preferring to play and his cousin to sing when it came to music. Lady Disley made a point of praising their needlework, noting that Georgiana’s embroidery skills were most impressive, and her husband then praised their daughter in lauding her skill with a paintbrush.
“We’ll be happy to show you some of our work later if you like,” said Cecilia.
“It’s late, Cessy. After supper, you and Georgiana will be heading to your rooms,” said her mother.
“Indeed, your cousin is likely fatigued from his journey,” added her father, “and no doubt desires a well-earned rest.”
What I desire is getting to the point of this excursion, Darcy thought sourly. Surely his uncle knew what anxieties he would have suffered on the road, wondering what he could possibly have to say about Pemberley that was best said in person.
When supper was done, Darcy escorted his sister to her room, which was connected by a sitting room to Cecilia’s; their cousin walked ahead of them. Georgiana chattered all the way, telling him more about her studies—she was enjoying learning Italian—and the horse that she had been gifted by their uncle for her fifteenth birthday.
“I believe I must have written you about dear Belle many times, but truly, Fitzwilliam, she’s an angel of a mare! So gentle, and so perfectly bred to carry a lady. And oh, the stunning color of her coat—”
“—the most incredible shade of brown, such as you are reminded of chocolate,” he finished for her.
Georgiana laughed as they stopped outside her door. “I see I have spoken to you of her. Well, you shall see for yourself tomorrow, I am sure. We should go for a ride together! You know that Cousin Theodore has a horse here still; I overhear the grooms all the time saying how it’s a shame he doesn’t get the same attention Cecilia and I give our horses.”
Darcy indulged in a wistful smile—he had heard of the horse she spoke of, as it had been Theo’s great joy to have secured the black beast’s purchase. It was a shame indeed that their uncle could not see to the stallion’s being exercised more often.
“I shall be glad to ride with you, Georgiana,” he said. “I don’t get to ride for pleasure very often.”
Her countenance revealed, for a fraction of a moment, how very sad his words made her. Darcy’s pride in her rose when she almost instantly returned his steady gaze with a wide smile. “Well, you shall tomorrow! Cecilia and I usually ride together in the mornings, but she does also like to lie abed later than usual on Saturday, so it is like to be just the two of us. And it is likely to be cold in the morning, anyway, but we can bundle ourselves quite well and endure at least half an hour’s ride, I think.”
Darcy knew this already from her many letters over the years but said nothing as he smiled indulgently. “Well, if she decides to ride with us, I shan’t mind at all. I have not spent enough time with either of you in these last eighteen months.”
“I do wish Theodore were here—we could have Philip and Sophia and little Julian come over from Rowarth Hall, and have a whole family party!”
“Not Lady Catherine and Anne as well?” Darcy teased.
Georgiana emitted a soft snort. “You would be gone by the time they arrived,” she said primly.
“Not to mention a family party wouldn’t be near half as fun if they were here!” cried Cecilia, who peaked out from the sitting room doorway. “Come, Georgie, let’s do a little work on our matching reticules before we ready for bed.”
“Coming, Cessy,” Georgiana replied, then reached out to her brother and embraced him again. “It really is good to see you, brother,” she murmured against his chest.
“And you as well, dear one,” Darcy replied as he returned the embrace, then released her and pushed her gently toward their cousin.
When the door was closed behind the two girls, he turned away and started for the guest wing. His aunt and uncle were just coming up the stairs then, and Lady Disley asked, “Where are you going, Fitzwilliam?”
“I am a guest. I assume my room is in the guest wing,” he replied flatly.
“Balderdash, boy!” cried his uncle. “Do not tell me that five years in the sun as a tenant on your own bloody estate has addled that brain of yours.”
“Richard, language,” admonished his wife softly. To Darcy, she said, “Though I do not care for how he said it, I do agree with what your uncle said. You’re a fool indeed if you seriously believed we’d put you in guest quarters. You are family, Fitzwilliam. Your room is in the family wing—in fact, it is the same room you always occupied whenever you stayed with us before.”
Darcy forced himself to relax. It had been so long since anyone but the Reynolds’ had treated him as one of their own. Of course, his exile had been of his own imposition; the earl, Philip, and even Theodore—to whom he had once been as close as a brother—had mostly left him alone, as he had requested. He’d done it because he’d not wanted them to see how far he had sunk in the world, nor would his pride allow him to be reminded of what he had lost whenever he was in their presence.
Releasing a breath, he said, “Forgive me, Aunt. Uncle. I am sure it is merely exhaustion which has muddled my thoughts.”
His aunt stepped up to him and took his hands in hers. “Then go on to bed, dearest, and get yourself a good night’s rest. Probably a better one than you’ll ever get in that cottage your uncle says you live in.”
As he had gotten used to the stiff, unyielding rope bed he’d been forced to accept upon his relocation to the cottage, Darcy thought it more likely that sleeping on the soft feather mattress that awaited him in his room was more likely to cause restlessness than abate it. He kept the thought to himself, however, and leaned to place a kiss upon his aunt’s brow, then offered a nod to his uncle before he turned back the way he had come. Like Georgiana and Cecilia’s rooms, his was one of a suite and shared a sitting room with his cousin Theodore’s bedchamber. It had once been Philip’s room when his elder cousins were young boys, but a significant row between them had led to Philip’s demanding a separate suite. As Darcy and Theodore had always gotten along better than the brothers (though they now loved and respected each other as much as a pair of brothers could do), they were paired together whenever the Darcy family visited Disley Court as soon as had graduated from the nursery.
In contrast to his assumption, however, the physical and mental exertions of the day led to Darcy falling asleep soon after his head hit the pillow.
Poor Darcy—summoned by the earl and then made to wait. Tell me what you think in the comments below to enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy!
Contest open until August 14, 2021. Good luck!